Anna Burns, Rachel Kushner, Terrance Hayes up for National Book Critics Circle Awards

Milkman by Anna Burns and The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner are among the fiction nominees for the annual U.S.-based award. Poet Terrance Hayes scored two nominations, one for poetry and one for criticism.
Anna Burns (left), Rachel Kushner and Terrance Hayes are among the National Book Critics Circle nominees. (Daniel Leal Olivas/Getty Images/Lucy Ravel/Simon & Schuster)

Anna Burns, Rachel Kushner and Terrance Hayes are among the finalists for National Book Critics Circle Awards.

The literary prizes, given out annually in March, celebrate books published in the U.S. across six categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, autobiography, biography and criticism.

Burns is one of five writers on the fiction shortlist. She won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Milkman, becoming the first Northern Irish writer to receive the British literary prize. Her book follows a protagonist known only as middle sister, who struggles to keep her boyfriend — as well as an encounter with the Milkman — secret.

Kushner is also on the fiction shortlist, for The Mars Room. Her novel tells the story of a woman named Romy Hall, as she begins serving two life sentences at a women's penitentiary in California.

Hayes is a finalist in two categories. For poetry, he is shortlisted for ​American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, 70 poems with the same title that explores the U.S.'s past and future troubles in triumphs.

Hayes's second nomination is the criticism category for the book To Float in the Space Between, a deep dive into the work of Etheridge Knight. One of his fellow nominees in the category is Zadie Smith for her collection of essays Feel Free, which examines popular culture through the lens of freedom, identity, race and class.

In addition to its 31 finalists, the organization has announced that There There by Tommy Orange will receive the John Leonard Prize, given to a writer for their debut book.

Below, find all the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. Winners will be announced on March 14, 2019 in New York. The National Book Critics Circle Awards finalists are determined by the organization's 24-member board, which is comprised of editors and book critics from American publications.


  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau
  • The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
  • The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
  • The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea


  • The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard
  • All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
  • What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth by Rigoberto Gonzalez
  • Belonging by Nora Krug
  • Old in Art School by Nell Painter
  • Educated in Tara Westover


  • American Sonnets for My Past and Future Self by Terrance Hayes
  • The Carrying by Ada Limón
  • Holy Moly Carry Me by Erika Meitner
  • Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl by Diane Seuss
  • Asymmetry by Adam Zagajewski


  • The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú
  • S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll
  • The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff & Jonathan Haidt
  • We the Corporations by Adam Winkler
  • God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright


  • Is It Still Good to Ya? by Robert Christgau
  • Tyrant by Stephen Greenblatt
  • To Float in the Space Between by Terrance Hayes
  • The Reckonings by Lacy M. Johnson
  • Feel Free by Zadie Smith


  • Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous by Christopher Bonanos
  • Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown
  • Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang
  • The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century by Mark Lamster
  • The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy


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